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Lesions of the chest wall

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The chest wall is the musculoskeletal structure that protects the organs in the chest cavity, including the cardiovascular system, lungs and the digestive system. Lesions of the chest wall can be malignant or benign and require biopsy to better determine treatment options. In adults, malignant lesions are commonly metastatic tumors that have spread to the chest wall from other tumors in the thoracic cavity. Metastatic tumors are almost always malignant. Primary tumors of the chest wall are masses that originate in the chest wall. Sarcomas are common primary tumors of the chest wall and over half of all primary chest wall tumors are malignant. The multispecialty cardiothoracic team at Cardiac Surgery Associates of Tampa can help diagnose and treat lesions of the chest wall and chest cavity.


Lesions of the chest wall do not always exhibit symptoms and as many as 20% of all chest wall masses are found unintentionally when conducting a chest x-ray for other symptoms or conditions, such as pneumonia, lung disease or congestive heart failure.  When symptoms are present they commonly include pain, pressure, swelling and a mass or lump that can be felt. With some benign chest wall tumors muscle atrophy may also occur.


The cause and risk factors that lead to primary lesions of the chest wall are not clear. Metastatic tumors on the chest wall are caused by the spread of the original tumor.

Treatment Options

Benign lesions of the chest will do not always need to be removed, unless they interfere with the functionality of organs in the thoracic cavity or cause pain. Malignant chest wall tumors are rare and can be difficult to treat. Chemotherapy is not always effective for lesions of the chest wall and often excision is the best option. Depending on the size of the tumor, chest wall reconstruction and resection may be required. Since the chest wall acts as the protection and support for the organs in the thoracic cavity, these excisions can difficult and require a thorough understanding of the chest, veins, muscles and organs. Metastatic lesions on the chest wall require physician assessment and treatment, as treatment for the original tumor may not be effective for the secondary tumor.

If you need an evaluation for a chest wall mass, please contact us for a consultation online or by calling 813.910.0027.